Oklahoma Voices

Oklahoma newsmakers talking about the issues that affect the Sooner state and beyond.

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The statue of Bennie Owen stands in front of athletic dorms on the east side of Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, which Owen helped build in the early 1920s.
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

Before Bud Wilkinson won 47 straight, before Barry Switzer “hung half-a-hundred” on his opponents, and before Bob Stoops restored the shine to the University of Oklahoma’s football program in the early 2000s, there was Bennie Owen.

The diminutive Arkansas City, Kansas native arrived at the University of Oklahoma in 1905 to coach a football team that had only briefly tasted success in its first decade of existence.

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla. 4)
House GOP / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)



The U.S. Congress if wrapping up the year with several key bills. Last week, the House passed a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind law, and the Senate sent a highway bill to President Obama’s desk.

On today’s show we’ll talk with Republican Congressman Tom Cole. The veteran lawmaker from Oklahoma spoke with KGOU’s Jacob McCleland on November 24 in his Norman office.

Some excerpts:

W. Joseph Campbell is a professor in the School of Communication at American University
American University


The future began 20 years ago, according to a new book by W. Joseph Campbell. In 1995, Timothy McVeigh’s truck bomb killed 168 people in Oklahoma City and sparked a debate about security. The Dayton Peace Accords ended a brutal war in the former Yugoslavia. The O.J. Simpson trial captured the imagination of a nation. Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski began their affair that led to the President’s impeachment. And 1995 was the year the internet went mainstream.

On this episode of OETA and the University of Oklahoma Outreach's Current Conversations, host Robert Con Davis-Undiano talks with Joshua Landis, the director of OU's Center for Middle East Studies, the author of the blog Syria Comment, and a regular contributor to KGO

The New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets take on the Phoenix Suns on April 6, 2007 during the team's second and final season in Oklahoma City.
David Holt

If you follow state Sen. David Holt on Twitter, you may have noticed a recurring hashtag over the past month or two. #10YearsBigLeagueCity. He was marking the anniversary, and the decade that’s passed, since Oklahoma City got its first taste of professional basketball.

Pope Francis, in an address to a joint meeting of Congress, encouraged lawmakers to work together to solve the problems of ordinary Americans and to show compassion for people across the globe who are suffering from war and hunger.

(L-R): Oklahoma Watch executive editor David Fritze, Oklahoma City Ward 7 councilman John Pettis, Jr., and Oklahoma City police chief Bill Citty during Tuesday night's forum at Kamp's 1910 Café.
Patrick Roberts / KGOU

Oklahoma City residents crowded into a café in Midtown last month to discuss police and minority communities.

The event hosted by Oklahoma Watch raised questions about diversity within the police force.

Oklahoma City Ward 7 councilman John Pettis, Jr. spoke to the crowd about everything from the nationwide spike in police shootings to the racial makeup of the city’s police force, where the number of black officers stands at roughly 6 percent. Pettis voiced concerns that number would drop even lower in coming years as minority officers begin to retire.

Dr. Larry Kincheloe speaks at the EXPLORE: Oklahoma Healthcare Summit in Norman on August 13, 2015.
Jim Johnson / KGOU


Oklahoma City’s location as a crossroads positions the metro  as a hotbed for human trafficking activity.

According to a Department of Justice reports from 2003, Oklahoma ranked fourth in the nation for the largest number of trafficking survivors in the United States. The top states were California, New York and Texas.

The intersection of major interstate highways like I-35, I-40 and I-44 means human traffickers move sex slaves and others involved in forced labor through Oklahoma City.

The town council of Boley, Okla. circa 1907 to 1910.
Oklahoma Historical Society

Between the end of the Civil War 150 years ago until the height of Jim Crow in the early 20th century, African-Americans established more than 50 all-black towns across the state. Some lasted only a few years, but a handful of them still exist today.

Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Issacson, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin during Tuesday night's panel discussion.
The Aspen Institute / YouTube

Gov. Mary Fallin joined three fellow Republican chief executives in Colorado Tuesday night to discuss what's working in their states.

President Barack Obama talks with attendees of a speech in Durant, Oklahoma on July 15, 2015.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Millions of American students don’t have access to high speed internet at home, putting them at an educational disadvantage. On Wednesday, president Barack Obama began his two-day visit to Oklahoma by unveiling a new plan to bring  internet service into low income households.

The president was met with applause and introduced himself with the Choctaw greeting “Halito” at Durant High School in the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

Supreme Court
Mark Fischer / Flickr

The end of June was a busy few days for both the state and federal judiciary. As the U.S. Supreme Court wound down its term, opinions in some of the widest-reaching cases came in the final few days.

But a lot of the reasons behind all of this began years ago.

Death Penalty Dispute

House Majority Leader Carl Albert (D-Okla.) sits in the Oval Office with President Lyndon Johnson.
Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library

Southeast Oklahoma is an unusual place, politically. Many southerners settled in the area after the Civil War, leading to its nickname “Little Dixie.”

Through the 20th century, it became the center of political power in Oklahoma, and the Democratic Party dominated politics well into the late 1990s. Decades after the formerly “Solid South” had switched to the Republican Party, Democrats enjoyed an 8:1 voter registration advantage in southeast Oklahoma.

Left-to-right: David Fritze, Nicole Washington, Roxanne Hinther, Janet Cizek
Oklahoma Watch

Women in Oklahoma face often unique mental-health challenges in different life situations – whether incarcerated, suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, or dealing with severe anxiety as a professional or parent.

At an Oklahoma Watch-Out forum in Tulsa May 21, three experts talked about issues ranging from incarcerated women and trauma to postpartum depression and both the cultural and biological factors of mental health.

National Archives And Records Administration

Jim Thorpe. One of the greatest athletes of the 20th century – if not the greatest. After winning two gold medals at the 1912 Olympics, Sweden’s King Gustav V reportedly told him, “You, sir, are the greatest athlete in the world.”

Thorpe’s response? “Thanks.”